PPA Check-In with Rich Muny: Advocacy groups
The fight to legalize online poker in the United States has reached a tipping point, with states pushing forward with their own online poker bills, while the federal government remains in gridlock. Still, the only complete legislative victory for poker players will be when federal legislation is passed.
Every week the Poker Players Alliance Vice President of Player Relations Rich Muny will give us the latest information on the fight to legalize poker in the United States at both the state and federal level.
This week Rich discussed a new bill in Mississippi and offered up his thoughts on other pro-gaming advocacy groups..
PNB: What are your thoughts on Representative Moak reintroducing his online gaming bill in Mississippi?
RM: I think it’s fantastic. The bill is an underdog, but strong grassroots support now will surely help pave the way toward success. I believe that, once a few states move on this and get online poker sites up and running, a state like Mississippi could move forward on this and authorize online poker.
That being said, the bill in question is not perfect. The penalties for players on unlicensed sites are very problematic. As states will have little recourse to go after sites, the concern is that players will be targeted for enforcement efforts. Surely it would be better for the sites in Mississippi to offer a good product, thus using the free market to drive compliance. Additionally, the provisions mandating that Internet service providers block websites offering unlicensed poker and casino gaming will be troubling to Internet freedom advocates and many others. If the bill does gain steam, PPA will do great deal of outreach to lobby for player-friendly changes while simultaneously continuing to advocate for the principle of online poker licensing by that state.
PNB: Could you give us your thoughts on some of the other advocacy groups out there, like the AGA and FairPlay USA, such as how closely you work with them, and what actions they take that you agree/disagree with?
RM: PPA has worked well with both groups. AGA has a very strong presence on Capitol Hill, so finding common ground with them helps reduce PPA’s lobbying load. In fact, one benefit of the poker community’s grassroots work and PPA’s lobbying was that, by improving the odds of passage of online poker legislation, it made advocating for online poker a +EV endeavor for the AGA’s member companies.
PPA worked well with FairPlay USA and made great use of their work to get former Gov. Tom Ridge and former FBI director Louis Freeh on board. FairPlay USA may have struggled to gain traction within the broader poker community, but the work they did in the time they were active certainly aided the overall effort on Capitol Hill.
PNB: What are your thoughts on Frank Fahrenkopf’s decision to step down from the AGA later this year, and do you think this will have any effect on potential legislation or “the fight” moving forward?
RM: I think Frank Fahrenkopf brought outstanding leadership to the AGA. I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him, so I have no personal stories to share, but the strength of the AGA in Nevada and on Capitol Hill speaks for itself. It’s hard to speculate at this point how the focus of the AGA could change and if will be helpful or harmful to the poker advocacy movement, but I think the fact that they have moved so strongly toward getting licensed online poker bodes well for us.
Tags: Advocacy Groups, Casino Gaming, Enforcement Efforts, Fairplay, Federal Legislation, Freedom Advocates, Gain Steam, Gaming Advocacy, Grassroots Support, Gridlock, Internet Freedom, Internet Service Providers, Legislative Victory, Moak, Online Gaming Bill, Online Poker sites, PNB, poker players, Pro Gaming, Tipping Point
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